Innovation Academy: Learning for tomorrow… today

J.C.Charyk Hanna School (JCCHS) is taking a different approach to the schools of excellence concept.

Instead of selecting a singular focus, students are being encouraged to make their learning relevant, develop their entrepreneurial spirit and explore cutting edge technologies.

A wide variety of equipment has been acquired to help the students explore technologies that will play a. role in their futures, as well as foster curiosity and entrepreneurial spirit as they look towards their futures.

The equipment ranges from a computer numerical controlled plasma cutter in the shop to a laser cutter, robots, industry standard 3D printer, drones and a John Deere tractor with a complete auto-steer unit.

The humanities programs are now accessing new green screens and desktop publishing equipment to represent learning in new ways.

Our foods program has acquired new cooking technologies such as sous vide units, air fryers and InstaPots to introduce 21st century home cooking practices.

Although we don’t have a meat cutting program, students showed interest in value added agriculture in the way of meat processing. To that end, a grinder, sausage stuffer, smoker, dehydrator have all been acquired and already put to use.

A trial batch of sausage was made by a group of students, but the biggest sausage project was driven by a junior high math class. There is a lot of calculation involved when correlating a recipe to product and the meat, spices, water and casings needed to make a batch of sausage.

The science department has been augmented with such equipment as a PCR cycler and gel electrophoresis unit to explore DNA replication.

This equipment, along with physics and environmental monitoring equipment is going to introduce our students to university level practices and the opportunity to make their learning relevant.

Perhaps the biggest and most visible acquisition to our school has been virtual reality equipment.

A number of classes have been using the VR headsets since September to practice their French in Paris, learn to box, travel to the pyramids and around the world, and have many other experiences.

VR is opening so many doors when it comes to connecting to learning in a new and impactful way.

New programs are always being added and students are definitely seeing their learning from a new perspective.

Our elementary students aren’t being left out of the technology opportunities.

A robotics program has been developed using Terrapin Coding Robots which has seen students from Grade 2 to 6 learn about coding and putting their knowledge to work.

Coding is one of the most impactful new subjects students can learn to help them in our technological world and we want to give them a great start.

There are two overarching programs which are driving a lot of the learning at JCC.

The Leader in Me program has been delivered to our K-6 staff and it is becoming part of every classroom. This ties into the innovation concept through building student capacity in decision making and the value of becoming a good citizen and community member.

The program is going to go a long way towards building empathy and community in our school. Project Based Learning is the approach being taken from Grades 7-12 to introduce new technologies into relevant student learning.

Students and staff will be introduced to the new equipment and technologies and encouraged to use them to demonstrate their learning and make learning relevant.

Students in Grades 7 to 9 participated in a Skills Alberta Skills Exploration Day on Dec. 1. Teams of students took part in a design challenge and produced a prototype design to meet the challenge.

Over the course of preparing for the challenge, students explored the new technologies while testing their creativity, teamwork and planning to build the end product.

It was a great opportunity for students to make use of new technologies while exploring trades and skills at the same time.

The Prairie Land board of trustees has seen the value of the Innovation Academy and invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment and professional support to make the program work.

Innovation is key to building a sustainable community and for our students to find their way in a rapidly evolving future world.

At JCCHS, we want to give our students every opportunity to incorporate their interests and passions with cutting-edge technologies and personally relevant learning opportunities and the Innovation Academy is going to make it happen.


by Kelly Lewis, Vice Principal

J.C.Charyk Hanna School

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